Bol (Sope Dìrísù) and Rial (Wunmi Mosaku) are a young couple of asylum seekers fleeing the all-consuming violence of South Sudan on a dangerous and tragic journey through the Mediterranean. We get a glimpse of this violence at home, as well as the journey to apparent safety in Europe. Corn things really kick off with what happens once the couple finally arrive – exhausted, hopeful, dubious – in closed and unwelcoming England, and are immediately confronted with the rigors of their new life as political refugees.
In most cases, they have it better than most, and they remember it more than once. Their boat capsized at sea; there is not much to suggest that the survivors were numerous. Corn they or they Survived. And, much to their surprise, Bol and Rial were granted asylum status. They receive a stipend of £ 74 and accommodation in one of London’s popular areas. Big searches given the circumstances, they are told, even if what greets them on their arrival are cockroaches and naked wires. Home sweet home, but not really. They are guests in this country, another thing they are often reminded of: they are here on bail.
His home – Remi Weekes’ directorial debut, now streaming on Netflix – starts off as one type of movie and very quickly turns out to be something else. Because when the “horror” begins, it is in the context of it all: the house they were given, the allowance and, most urgently, the relief from the violence in Sudan. Because everything comes with strings. Bol and Rial can live here, but they can’t live – not really. They cannot break any rules, nor work, fend for themselves, nor make their own arrangements for a living. “No animals, no guests, no friends, no parties…” It’s a litany of Nots, I can nots, Forbiddens. It’s not easy to fit in when you seem like the only immigrant couple in the neighborhood, so foreign to these surroundings that even local black residents laugh at your accent (with more nastiness, it should be noted, than most white residents). It is our first lesson: How a country manages to say, without anyone having to say it, that because you are running away from the worst, you will take what you can have. Better than where you come from, surely, is logic. It is a film which wonders, aloud with great terror, if this is as true as predicted.
Because, to put it plainly, this couple is haunted. And one of the His homeThe smartest piece of s is to take the vanities of the genre – the house haunted by restless spirits; the predatory demon that clings to its victims and follows them wherever they go – and compares them to things a refugee couple might experience in their new homeland. In real life, there is PTSD, the guilt of the survivor, the pain of assimilation into a European culture whose own history of colonialism bears, with sufficient hindsight to promote collective amnesia, on the violence of which the couple took refuge. But refugees don’t just leave. They carry with them the scars where they come from. And here, these scars are as much physical as they are spectral. They are alive in the things this couple wears: a doll and a pearl necklace that reminds them of things lost along the way.
So when trouble starts, it strikes almost as soon as Bol and Rial move in. A real fantasy gets them out of bed, talks to them behind the walls, plays tricks in the shadows. Something is hiding, crawling through the interiors, dragging its feet, looking at them. Something as conscious as it is threatening. Something from the past.
His home is a strong, thrilling debut – though its horrors may be redundant as the film progresses – for its eerie fusion of political experience and the usual, perilous haunted house thrills. Jump scared? We know it. Terrifying ghouls dragged down from the bottom of the sea and who-knows-where-else: we have them too. And all the other tricks of the trade, all the nasty surprises, the nightmares made clear as daylight. Weekes seems to know that when it comes to putting the horror of a horror movie on the bill, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel – give us what we want. Give us the terror of those wide, heavy foreground shots in which figures appear to us up close as, in the wide open space of the background, shadows and doors and faint crackles in the distance beg practically a naughty and deviant surprise to jump in and terrify them – and us.
But the filmmaker also knows that none of this is more than the usual parade of jumps and pictorial anticipations without being anchored in an urgent and immediate psychological reality. And this dose of reality is where His home demonstrates inventiveness. Elaborating on the source of all this phantasmagoria wouldn’t be entirely fair to the film. Suffice it to say that the title ultimately raises the question of whose the house we’re in, exactly. The movie’s response to this isn’t quite what you would expect. It is developed by Rial, in a story she tells about a man from his native village, whose desire for prosperity involves stealing from others and whose successes are built on the losses of others.
Good, flight is quite a concept in a refugee film. And Bol and Rial, evocatively embodied by Dìrísù and Mosaku, are rightly in conflict. The tensions that grow between them are energizing and interesting. Bol’s overwhelmed mania is like something out of The brilliant, a man driven mad by his surroundings, as well as by his own desire to give in to what England wants and assimilates. (A scene of him shopping for a shirt, with white men in polo shirts appearing on the walls of the store, proves to be effective in selling us this idea.) Rial, on the other hand, is relatively cool – less disturbed, at least. surface. But maybe just on the surface.
The ghosts in this movie don’t appear once or twice; it’s not a movie that keeps you waiting or in any way holds you back from showing us up close, early and often the face of its central evil. I said it gets a bit repetitive. Equally true is the fact that this makes the idea more cohesive: It is, like the mental scars that plague this couple, a weirdness whose power does not lie in their willingness to play with this couple, but rather in their persistence. . A movie like Get out announced, in its very title, the desire that this film makes you feel on the part of its hero: Gand out of this house. This film presents the additional and powerful dilemma of forcing you to determine whether a couple who already have got out – from Sudan – has nowhere to go. At one point, when the mania of the house pushes one of the heroes of the film to lock him up, the gesture is a little impetuous on one side, and logically on the other.
The question of who owns this house has, in fact, an answer, and that answer is Great Britain. It is England, not Sudan – the couple’s armored colonial present, not their bloody past – that initially forbids them from leaving this house. It is England that crushes them in a system of assimilation and self-annihilation. It is certain that an arid, crusty, pocket-sized council apartment offered by the Empire has its own lairs that rival anything that has happened with these new residents, traumas as enriched and deeply ingrained as anything they do. could have brought ashore with them when disembarking here. Oddly enough, this aspect of UK life has almost entirely turned into an affair of the world beyond the gates of Bol and Rial. There is “the system,” as it manifests itself humanly in the form of social work, Mark (Matt Smith, of Doctor Who and The crown). There are also the locals: uninviting young people who are still prowling, pissing on things, suggesting clashes without much consequence. The threat seems real. But it also feels outwardly: the real terrors, the film suggests, are what’s inside Bol and Rial.
His home takes a curious path through its horrors. Just when you think he’s run out of ideas, the bottom drops, through a dream or hallucination – the difference, in this case, is zero. The script, from Weekes, gets smarter the further it goes. And ghouls become formidable as they grow older. Yet despite all the flash effects and clever vanities of the film, actors Dìrísù and Mosaku are its best element. Mosaku, in particular, has a relentless face and affect – heartbreak and fear disguised as resignation – which turns out to be this movie’s best special effect. She is also his beating heart and his most alluring feature. With a simple nod to one side or the other, with a rapid flash of steel in the eye, she sums up all the vanities brought to the material. There is a world of sorrow in these faces. The power of the film, in the end, is to give this world some substance. That, and let our own fears bring it to light.